Evolution


(Christian Rodriguez) #1

Evolution, lets talk about it. I have friends who ask me all the time about evolution and I can’t seem to give them a straightforward answer. I find this a bit frustrating because I want to know and be able to explain these things in great depth. So here are questions I seem to come across.

Is it biblical?
Is it true?
Does it contradict the bible?
Did everything else evolve but the human race?
Should Christians believe in evolution?
Does the bible disprove evolution? If so, how?

I appreciate all discussion, answers, and feedback!


(SeanO) #2

@Christian_Rodriguez I’ve included some threads below you may find interesting on the topic of evolution. Some doctrines - like the deity of Christ - are central to our faith and necessary to be Christian. Others - like our view of evolution - are secondary - they are convictions or opinions. How we view evolution is not central - there is room for disagreement.

And I think when you talk with your friends the most important thing is to emphasize that intelligent, godly Christians disagree on some of these matters. What is central is that you come to Christ. Your view of evolution does not prevent you doing that…

Levels of Doctrine

Not all doctrine is equally important. Some beliefs are at the very center of our Christian faith and to deny them is to deny Christ. Other beliefs are important to how we practice our faith and are therefore the cause of disagreement between many denominations, but these beliefs do not place us outside of Christ. Still other doctrines, such as eschatology, are difficult even for very learned and godly people to understand clearly and are therefore a matter of opinion.

The below article offers a fuller explanation of levels of doctrine and gives a helpful summary list of 4 levels of doctrine.

  1. absolutes define the core beliefs of the Christian faith;
  2. convictions , while not core beliefs, may have significant impact on the health and effectiveness of the church;
  3. opinions are less-clear issues that generally are not worth dividing over; and
  4. questions are currently unsettled issues.

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/how-do-you-evaluate-and-weigh-the-importance-of-various-doctrines/

Evolution


(Steven Kalinowski) #3

RZIM CONNECT

Hi Christian
Love the questions and I have agonized over them a long time and have even been ostracised over this to some extent.
They are not simple questions and the answers are not simple either. Here’s a few ideas to consider.

I don’t like playing the bible vs science vs evolution. To me Genesis was not meant to be a science book and was also written for their time, their culture and what they could accept and understand at the time. For me, it is about the Creator, who He is and power to create. But the bible also points to nature to see God’s glory and science has done this amazingly well. The problem is when science become scientism. When it takes to itself as the source for all answers and denigrates anything else. Berlinsky writes well about this. The other problem as I see it is when believers with good intentions take the bible to go against science but are not humble in what Genesis’s purpose was or is and may not realize the amount of interpretations that have been attempted already.
So this puts us in a huge debate between believers with different hermeneutics (ways of interpreting the bible). It also puts anyone of these interpretations against the the usual science views.
So this leaves, especially new believers, with a dilemma… believe the bible or science …which is a false dilemma I believe.

It also puts believer against believer depending on level of maturity, level of exposure to different ways of interpreting the bible, seeing one’s own biases to an extent, exposure to science and scientific methods, I have met atheists who don’t have a clue of the amazing coherence of the bible. I have met pastors who don’t have a clue about science but know it must be wrong and is a conspiracy against God’s word. I have met pastors who don’t realize their own biases in how they interpret vs interpreters from a century or two ago for example.

So where does that leave us when talking to friends or family?

I don’t think we need to be adamant against evolution except naturalistic evolution. Naturalistic evolution is the idea that God was not involved in the process at all. In my mind this I cannot accept. The book below called Evolution 2 is quite amazing if you want to delve into it. If you have done any software it describes exactly a lot of how genetics and DNA works. To ever get some kind of evolution going, I think it shows an intelligence that is way beyond us.

It shows the mind of the ultimate software designer.

From a comment on the book:

Marshall says it concisely: “[A] digital code must be established before any kind of cell replication can be possible. A code will only function in the context of an encoder and decoder. [A]mino acids are not code. A string of nucleotides all by itself is not a code. Chemicals all by themselves do not communicate. No one has ever demonstrated that chemical reactions alone can generate codes. It’s not nearly enough to have hardware. You have to have software, too. Remember, the genetic code is crucial to all life and its ability to reproduce. Without code there can be no self replication.” (182)

Evolution 2.0: Breaking the Deadlock Between Darwin and Design

Oct 24, 2017

by Perry Marshall

Plantinga goes into the idea that it is naturalistic science that is against the idea of God but not true science. It is this philosophical stance that is mistaken. Real science started by believers in God ( those like Newton, Maxwell, and so on)

Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism

Dec 9, 2011

by Alvin Plantinga

If you are up to it - another book that others have mentioned that was really helpful is from John H. Walton. He brings a much needed different view from our time and culture. He helps us see Genesis as they would have seen it. Even if you read this and don’t agree - I think one can’t help but gain new insights into how they thought and how we tend to impose our views on the text.

The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate

The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate

John H. Walton

Combining some ideas from books like these I think you can be much more confident in your faith in the bible and God. There is less of a need to ‘prove Genesis” or disprove evolution in a sense. There are different senses, interpretations, meanings on both sides. It is like two arrows flying opposite and passing each other in a sense.

In the end I still think the historicity of the resurrection of Christ is the strongest. These are really kind of side issues but are still important to remove blocks to coming to faith in Him.

So in answer to your questions on evolution?

Is it biblical?

I don’t think the bible addresses evolution in the sense we may think of it today.

Is it true?

Depends what kind. I think God programmed life to evolve in many varieties.

Does it contradict the bible?

If it isn’t naturalistic evolution - i don’t think so

Should christians believe in evolution?

I don’t think there is a problem with it - if God as Creator is involved in it.

Does the bible disprove evolution?

No. It isn’t addressed.

Of course this is how I see it and there will be some who agree with me and others who won’t. Some will say that I am not staying true to God’s word. Some will say I am not very spiritual in saying these things. I would say that you shouldn’t have to unnecessarily argue for a literal point of view of Genesis. I think it is like backing yourself into a corner needlessly. The above books are just a start but are enough to get a start on some of the issues involved.


(Bill Brander) #4

Thanks for this. Have to save where I can find it again.
Bill


(Dean Schmucker) #5

The issue is more about World view than about origins. The evolutionist is first of all a materialist. “The cosmos is all there’s is, all there ever was, all there ever will be”
Sorry Carl, that one went out with a “bang”
Evolution is the only place a materialist can rub to, if he insists on an explanation of creation that dies not include a Creator


(Robert Anderson) #6

I love this topic and think a lot about it. I think firstly, if by evolution you mean that one thing slowly turned into another, then I think it is mostly harmless because a God outside time could just as easily create slowly as He could quickly. But if by evolution you mean a universe that is subject to this blind destiny and is ever unfolding, then I think we run into some problems.

I would argue that it is self-defeating because it attacks the authority of the human mind to think. How can our minds be trusted if they are merely an accident of environment? Why should the environment stimulate thoughts that are true? The environment could just as likely stimulate thoughts that are false. We discredit every one of our thoughts by saying they are mere accidental products of environment, including our thought of evolution.

I also think it is self-defeating in practice because there are many studies that show that religion is good for mental health. And the healthier our minds are, the fitter we are for survival. So if we were subscribers to the strict definition of evolution and believed in survival of the fittest, we might have good reason to abandon our belief in evolution and take up religion. This is a major conflict in logic.


(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #7

I recently listened to an amazing podcast where one of the leading Intelligent design experts, Stephen Meyer, blatantly says that evolution is over, its already been proven false. It was an eye opener for sure.

Here is the podcast:


(SeanO) #8

@manbooks I think we need to be careful about assuming another person’s motivations. A person may believe in evolution as a result of culture - it is the only thing they have ever known. Or for social reasons - everyone they love and respect believes it. So I think we need to be careful about ascribing motive to another person’s beliefs. But I do agree that materialism naturally leads to evolution as an explanation for human origins.


(Cameron Kufner) #9

@Christian_Rodriguez … Christian, thank you for those great questions. This subject is one I often wrestled with, but no longer do. I will lay out the evidence I’ve found during my times of study that will hopefully be of great help to you.

The idea that Humans & Chimps are 98% matched in their DNA is an idea that has been used to promote the idea that Humans and Chimps have a common ancestor millions of years ago, but that study was not really evaluated by many people, which leads to many being deceived and accepting Evolution as fact, not theory. Fun fact: Both the Human and Chimp genome were left out when making the DNA comparison.

Genome: In the fields of molecular biology and genetics, a genome is the genetic material of an organism. It consists of DNA (RNA in RNA viruses). The genome includes both the genes (the coding regions) and the non coding DNA, as well as mitochondrial DNA and chloroplast DNA. The study of the genome is called genomics.

When a study was eventually done comparing both the Chimp and Human genomes, here were the results.

Results:

  1. Single letter differences were easy to tally.
  2. The big mismatch sections weren’t easy to tally.
  3. If a genetic paragraph, thousands of letters long appears twice in a Human scroll, but only once in its Chimp counterpart, shouldn’t that second Human copy count as just thousands of changes or just one?
  4. What about identical paragraphs that appear in both genomes but in different places or in reverse order were broken up into pieces?

Rather than “monkey around” with those difficult questions, the researchers simply excluded all the large mismatched sections, which was a whopping number of 1.3 billion letters in all and performed a letter by letter comparison on the remaining 2.4 billion letters, which turned out to be 98.77% identical.

So yes, we share 99% (rounded up) of our DNA with Chimps if we ignore 18% of their genomes and 25% of our genomes.

In reality, that is a lot to ignore, in fact, this represents hundreds of millions in each side of the comparison. Could the sections they left out be responsible for coding most of the obvious differences we see between Humans and Chimps?

It turns out there’s another problem, just a small tweak in a sentence can alter its meaning entirely or not ar all.

A few mutations in DNA sometimes produce big changes in a creatures looks or behavior, where as other times lots of mutations make very little difference, so just counting the number of genetic changes doesn’t really tell us that much about how similar or different two creatures are and it certainly makes sense that just counting up the number of genetic changes doesn’t really tell us that much about how similar or different two creatures are.

Genomes code for two completely different creatures, while both Humans and Chimps are mammals based on scientific criteria, God made man in his image (Genesis 1:26-27) and gave him a soul that is eternal. Chimps, which are soulless, tree dwellers and Humans, which are eternal souls wrapped in bodies that have vastly different capabilities than all animals because we were created in God’s image and charged to be caretakers over creation, including Chimps. Being made in God’s image and charged with taking care over God’s creation would mean that Humans would have several distinctions from Chimps, so here are some of them.

  1. Humans are the only living thing on Earth that have a conscious and a sense of morality. Our conscious let’s us know when failed or when we might fail to abide by either governmental laws or God’s laws. While primates know nothing of laws, they live only by instincts.

  2. Humans can speak. The English language contains over 1 million words and we can speak all of them. Plus, we can learn or invent totally different languages. Chimps/Apes cannot speak any of them. They do not even have a speech module installed in their brains. (Brodmann Areas 44 & 45)

  3. Our brains are 400% larger than Chimps. We’re also much smarter, having an average IQ of 100 when Chimps can’t even take the test.

  4. Our brain cells DNA carry very unique methylation patterns that enables us to think the way we do. The Human neocortex is disproportionately large compared to the rest of the brain. With a 60:1 ratio of gray matter to the size of the medulla in our brain stems compared to just a 30:1 ratio in Chimps.

  5. Humans have almost twice as many spindle cells than Chimps, enabling us to pull memories from past experiences and use them to plot our next actions. These functions activate when moral dilemmas present decisions we need to make that will directly affect other lives. The insula part of our brains has 46 times the number of spindle cells compared to Chimps. About 83,000 for Humans compared to only about 1,800 for Chimps. This makes sense because this part of our brain takes information from our skin, internal organs, and cardio system and converts it into subjective feelings such as empathy towards others and show signs of anguish/pain. Our DNA differences direct the construction of uniquely Human physical attributes. For example, we are typically 38% taller than Chimps, 80% heavier and live twice as long.

  6. We have eye whites for rich and nuanced nonverbal communication, which no Chimps/Apes have.

  7. Humans walk upright, while Chimps with their curved fingers, long arms, and unique locking wrist systems are designed for living in trees and walking on all fours. Their knees also point outward for climbing in trees whereas our knees point forward so we can walk or run all day if needed. We can’t even swap any of our internal organs with Chimps.

  8. Humans build space shuttles, write songs, worship, pray, and sing. Chimps do none of these things.

God specifically designed us. Formed the first of us from dust (Genesis 2:7) into the image of God and gave each of us an everlasting soul. We were charged with the duty to be caretakers over the entire animal kingdom.

Yes, we share vast DNA sequences with Chimps but we should expect this on the basis of creation. We also share plenty of DNA with mammals other than Chimps. After all, God made mammals and men to metabolize the same food sources, grow the same basic materials like bones, teeth, muscles, skin, hair, as well as produce placentas and milk for the next generation. The fact that we have sections of DNA that are similar to these creatures only shows that our designer used similar DNA instructions for making similar features and functions. It does not mean that one creature led to the other.

I hope this helps! God bless.


(Dean Schmucker) #10

Not so much judging motivations,as discerning patterns.


(Bill Brander) #11

A long read, but worth it.
How I will ever recall it I don’t know.
Thank you for the insight.
Bill


(Cameron Kufner) #12

You’re welcome, Bill. God bless!